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Tax agencies offer tax relief, advice to hurricane victims

  • Sep 8, 2017 | Gail Cole

 You shouldn't have to worry about taxes in the wake of a natural disaster.

With cleanup from Hurricane Harvey underway in East Texas and Southwest Louisiana, and Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Katia looming, the Internal Revenue Service and several state tax agencies are advising taxpayers to protect their financial documents and tax records. Furthermore, they’ve announced that tax relief is available for taxpayers unable to file tax returns or submit payments on time because of Harvey.

Be prepared

The Louisiana Department of Revenue recommends keeping paper records “out of harm’s way,” as well as storing them in airtight plastic containers or zip closure bags. It also encourages the use of electronic records, stored either in the cloud or on portable memory drives or CDs kept in airtight and waterproof containers.

People forced to evacuate their homes should bring the following documents in a waterproof container:

  • Driver’s license or ID
  • Social Security card
  • Proof of residence (deed or lease)
  • Insurance policies
  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • Stocks, bonds, and other negotiable certificates
  • Wills, deeds, and copies of recent tax returns

Tax relief

The IRS has announced that “Hurricane Harvey victims in parts of Texas have until Jan. 31, 2018, to file certain individual and business tax returns and make certain payments.” Tax relief for taxpayers with addresses in disaster areas should automatically kick in. If it doesn’t, or if a taxpayer living outside a disaster area kept records in an affected area, the IRS should be contacted at 866-562-5227. Additional information.

Texas was quick to announce relief for hotel and other state and local taxes. The Georgia Department of Revenue followed suit on Sept. 5, stating that tax relief would be available for “individuals who reside, and businesses whose principal place of business is located, in the disaster area,” provided the person or business was affected by Hurricane Harvey.

To date, states offering tax relief for individuals and businesses hit by Harvey include:

If you think you qualify for Hurricane Harvey tax relief in these or other states, contact your state department of revenue. Many, such as the Washington Department of Revenue, have provisions for taxpayer assistance in the wake of a disaster. This is something to keep in mind as more storms bear down on the Southeast and fires rip through the Northwest.

Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.